Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard “Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes 1965-69” (Free Dirt Records, 2018)

Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard are seen as the pioneering women of bluegrass music.  ‘Sing Me Back: The DC Tapes, 1965-1969’ is a raw, unproduced album that highlights the duo’s quality, recorded in Gerrard’s kitchen on a reel-to-reel recorder – their authentic talent does shine through. Some of the songs will be familiar when listening to the unearthed album, like the Everly Brothers’ ‘Bye Bye Love,’ The Carter Family’s ‘Cannonball Blues,’ and Dolly Parton’s ‘In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad).’ Continue reading “Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard “Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes 1965-69” (Free Dirt Records, 2018)”

Josh King “Into The Blue” (Independent, 2018)

Josh King’s solo debut album ‘Into The Blue’ is a deeply personal Americana album, which differs strongly from the indie-rock music he’s renowned for as the front man for the band House of Fools. A lot of the album comes from a dark period in King’s life as he battled with drugs and trying to leave his reckless young days behind him. ‘Follow Through,’ for example, was written after a cocaine bender; instead of sobering up in the morning he went to meet his dealer to get more. The song ends with him admitting that he wishes that he didn’t go through with his plans to get more coke. The juxtaposition of the happy poppy guitar backing with the dark lyrics really does make a great song, despite the story behind it. Continue reading “Josh King “Into The Blue” (Independent, 2018)”

Jeremy Nail “Live Oak” (Independent, 2018)

‘Live Oak’ is the third album from Texan Jeremy Nail, just the name of the album along is strong with symbolism for Nail. The name of the album refers back to an oak tree in Austin, Texas, that almost didn’t survive after someone poisoned the tree in 1989, but it did. This relates to Nail after he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, which led to him needing his leg amputated. Continue reading “Jeremy Nail “Live Oak” (Independent, 2018)”

Riley Moore “Vagrant” (Independent, 2018)

Nashville native, Riley Moore’s world travels have inspired his new album ‘Vagrant,’ which reflects on his experiences and his musical influences. The album pays tribute to Bob Dylan,  who is a clear inspiration for the singer-songwriter, on a number of tracks both musically and in his vocals. Straight from the first track, you can see his Dylan-esqe style, clearly drawing from 1960s American folk music. The album comes from a lifetime of experiences with the likes of ‘Pancakes and M&M’s’ – a take on the theme of childhood – something that can be guessed just from the song title. This track truly captures the light-heartedness and fun of an American childhood with lyrics like “daddy’s lab coat was a white cape, his hugs could make the world shake” – the tune fully embracing the freedom of being a child. Continue reading “Riley Moore “Vagrant” (Independent, 2018)”

B.R. Lively “Into the Blue” (Independent, 2018)

This debut album from B.R. Lively is deep-rooted in folk, but has a unique style all its own, with a lot of outside inspirations, which show in its use of Motown beats and string arrangements. Lively is a great storyteller and using folk music to tell these stories works in his favour.  ‘Into The Blue’ is a great album made for easy listening with songs about heartbreak and the world at large.   Continue reading “B.R. Lively “Into the Blue” (Independent, 2018)”

Son of the Chief “Needless Road” (Boxwood Records, 2018)

The Scottish singer Son of the Chief, more commonly known as Mackie Mackintosh, has released a debut solo album “Needless Road” that is a true Americana-indie album. The ten-track piece from the Scottish artist sticks true to an Americana sound, but has clear country-rock inspiration, “Coalfax Avenue” being a great example of this -the electric guitar intro to the track making you believe this is a more mainstream country song, but then the fiddle instrumental in the middle and the banjo backing throughout, brings it home with an Americana sound. Continue reading “Son of the Chief “Needless Road” (Boxwood Records, 2018)”

Neil Sturgeon & the Infomaniacs “Geography &  Luck” (Buzzwagon Beat, 2018)

Neil Sturgeon & the Infomanics’ debut release is called ‘Geography & Luck’, an album which ranges from Americana to pop with more than passing nod to folk rock. The twelve track album produced by Raymond McGinley, of Teenage Fanclub fame, features a wide range of Glasgow musicians which allows it to draw on a variety of high-quality vocalists and instrumentalists. Their talents are highlighted throughout the album without ever overwhelming the storytelling vocals. Continue reading “Neil Sturgeon & the Infomaniacs “Geography &  Luck” (Buzzwagon Beat, 2018)”

The Equatorial Group “Apricity” (Independent, 2018)

The Equatorial Group’s self-funded debut album ‘Apricity’ does not fit neatly into a particular genre of Americana, having a distinctly psychedelic acoustic sound.  ‘Motorbikes’ is the closest to a country-Americana song with the opening guitar picking of the track similar to an old-school country song. The ten track album from the five-piece band does not have a set sound. Some tracks like ‘Farewell My Lovely’  are purely acoustic with the vocalist sounding similar to the likes of Dido with a breathy vocal and simple guitar background, while the likes of ‘Burning’ is more of a jazz number with the use of brass instruments playing in the background of the piano. Continue reading “The Equatorial Group “Apricity” (Independent, 2018)”

Ross Cooper “I Rode The Wild Horses” (Independent 2018)

Ross Cooper’s new album is a true cry to cowboy country. Many of the songs echo his career as a bareback rider, with the lyrics reflecting the rodeo lifestyle. ‘I Rode The  Wild Horses’ combines both folk and alt-rock to create a “new Nashville sound” as Cooper calls it. The title track takes an authentic Texas Western feel on a cowboy song, which tells the tale of a weary cowboy traveller. With lyrics like “I’m a spitfire son of the road” it shows Cooper’s impressive songwriting talent and highlights his experience of being on the road with the rodeo.
Continue reading “Ross Cooper “I Rode The Wild Horses” (Independent 2018)”

Will Stewart “Country Seat” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2018)

Will Stewart’s debut solo album ‘Country Seat’ explores his southern roots, with folk-rock being the foreground for the piece.  The album takes Stewart’s musical influences from many artists, including Neil Young, with the electrified moments and modern folk attraction of Hiss Golden Messenger. Stewart has called this album a love letter to the south, with the guitar being the main focal point of the music and with his vocals it allows the album to be quite an easy listening piece. Continue reading “Will Stewart “Country Seat” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2018)”